It's a holiday weekend and the boardwalk is bustling ahead of Easter. A lot of business owners tell Action News this week of spring break could be a good indication of what the summer will bring. If this is any indication, the Jersey Shore will be jumping again.
"I think it's going to be a good summer. I think it's going to be a busy summer because I can see the crowd is coming and it's not even summer yet. There's a lot of people and I'm hoping for a really good summer," said Julia Nikolova, co-owner of Urban Crepes.
Ocean City merchants have been hoping spring would bring a big crowd and so far, that's panning out. The nice weather is helping too.
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"As long as the weather is good, we do a great business. But we have a lot of people who are local who shop here and love the store, that's a good thing," said Karen Manley, who has worked at Henry Jewelers for more than a decade.
But the big challenge facing many businesses up and down the shore this summer will be finding employees. At Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, a big job fair was held hoping to fill hundreds of positions for the summer. Their message to job-seekers: It's time to return to the shore. That's where the jobs are.
"It's time because you don't want to have that FOMO. You don't want to be missing out because it's happening down here at the Jersey shore, it's safe, it's fun so come on down," said Steven Donnell, with Ocean Casino Resort.
A lot of people already have started to head to the shore. Visitors tend to have their favorite go-to spots but you'll want to add some newcomers to your list too.
They only opened 2 weeks ago, but already, Famous Cookie Creamery on the boardwalk in Ocean City has become a cool destination for both ice cream and cookie lovers.
Manager Ryan Schwartz says being the 'new kid on the block' has been sweet so far.
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"We are just hoping for a good stress-free summer. Those employment issues, at least for us, are settling down. We've hired a bunch of local college kids, high school kids, down in Ocean City, Egg Harbor Township, and so we're excited to get people together again, provide a service to people on the boardwalk," said Ryan Schwartz, manager of Famous Cookie Creamery.
Indeed Ocean City is hoping to make a post-COVID come back this summer and these are exciting times for new businesses like Capella Oils and Vinegar on Asbury Avenue. Owner Denise Capella had hoped to get her shop up and running two winters ago, but the pandemic shut her down.
"It was very stressful. Very stressful. And a couple of glasses of wine here and there because you don't know. You don't know what's going to happen. I found this location right before covid really hit and the world got shut down but it was scary. I took a deep breath and here we are," said Denise Capella, owner of Capella Oil & Vinegars.
The Easter holiday is almost symbolic, as merchants hope for a rebirth of business, and the return of customers. They're anxious to enjoy the sea, the sun and the sense of normalcy, even in April.
"I'm a teacher and he's a student. First day of spring break and so we thought we'd come here and relax. And get a precursor to our summer week," said Stacie Husted from Eddystone, Pa.
"We went on a run this morning and we did not expect to see a crowded boardwalk but it's great to see people back out and about, especially with the last two years and everything we've gone through," added Allie Bauer from Perkiomenville, Pa.
Everyone we've talked to today says they couldn't wait to get here for spring break and leave winter behind.